Growing Ginger in the Pacific Northwest
Terra Verde Garden Brings Fresh Spice to the Market
Looking for a way to bring new flavors to the market, the Fontaines decided to plant a test crop of ginger at their farm in Everson, Washington. Although ginger is native to the steamy tropics of Southeast Asia, it is also widely cultivated in hot and temperate regions around the world. The challenge of growing ginger in the Pacific Northwest is to provide a sheltered environment with sufficient warmth, filtered sunlight, humidity and moist, rich soil.
The Fontaines started their golden ginger “mother” rhizomes in February in an unheated greenhouse at the farm. They had little to guide them in their first growing season; as far as they knew, they might be the only farm north of Seattle growing this crop. Developing the right soil mix and watering frequency was important, as well as having the patience for a 9-month crop.
Over the summer, they watched as the ginger rhizomes sprouted and sent up bamboo-like stalks that grew to about three feet (one meter) high. By October, the plants had grown enough that Terra Verde was able to harvest its first ginger rhizomes for market.
For Cooking and for Health
Cooks use chopped fresh ginger as a basic ingredient in Asian cuisine. It has many other culinary uses as well: steeped to make tea, pickled in vinegar, candied, crystallized, or ground into a powder to flavor cakes, cookies and gingerbread.
For Sküter and Amy, the work at Terra Verde is just beginning. “It will take one or two more years to refine our growing methods,” said Sküter. Meanwhile, the Fontaines have piqued the public’s appetite for local ginger. As quickly as they were able to display their fresh ginger at the Farmers Market, eager shoppers were buying it up.
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